What To Expect After Being Charged With OVI
A Guide To What Will Happen In Your Case
This exclusive guide from The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. details the processes and procedures involved with an OVI case in Ohio.
Responsible drinking and driving is NOT AGAINST THE LAW. If you plan to consume alcohol and later drive, you have a responsibility to do so conscientiously so that no one is endangered by your conduct. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or above in Ohio, and OVI is charged as a traffic violation. However, a conviction of OVI carries penalties, including license suspension, fines and the possibility of being placed in jail ranging from anywhere from 3 days up to 5 years in jail.
Having an OVI, OMVI, DUI, or DWI conviction can have long-lasting effects on your life. You need an experienced and aggressive OVI defense attorney that concentrates in defending drunk driving cases. The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. is your source for all the information you need to defend a charge of drunk driving. Below we present an extensive guide to the OVI case process. We can educate you about how these cases are handled in Columbus, Delaware, Mt. Gilead and throughout Ohio.
Going Through The Legal System
- Limited Driving Privileges
- Motion Hearing
- Obtaining Identification Card During Pendency of Case
The first court hearing is called the initial appearance, or arraignment. This is when you appear before the court to enter a plea of no contest, guilty or not guilty and appeal your administrative license suspension. Since we will be fighting the case, a “not guilty” plea will be entered. We will also file “motions” and other important “pleadings” in your case. Some courts and/or judges allow the attorney to appear on your behalf, while others require the appearance of the client as well. Please check with us prior to your arraignment date to see if your appearance is required. If your appearance is required, failure to be in court can result in forfeiture of your bond and license suspension for failure to appear. Whenever possible, we will appear without you in order to not inconvenience you and to relieve some of the stress that you may have about your case.
Also at the arraignment, we may file motions seeking some type of “relief” related to the case. Motions, simply put, are requests to grant some type of “relief”. This “relief” is usually asking that an administrative license suspension be terminated or stayed (placed on hold) or that some part of the State’s evidence be excluded when the case goes to trial. We may seek to exclude a breath, blood or urine test result, field evaluations or a custodial statement made by you after your detention, but before any Miranda advisements were given to you (e.g., “You have the right to an attorney; you have the right to remain silent…”).
In addition, we will make a request for the Prosecutor to give us the “discovery” in your case. Discovery is a generic term that relates to production of evidence that the state intends to present against you in court. An example of “discovery” is a list of the State’s witnesses against you as well as information on how to locate them. We will also make a request to the court to preserve any audio or video recordings that may have been made in your case. Obtaining discovery allows us to be as fully prepared as possible when we enter court so that there will be no surprises. We will send you a copy of all motions and discovery once it has been filed and received by our office.
2. Limited Driving Privileges
About 95% of all DUI arrests will involve an administrative license suspension (ALS). You must appeal this suspension within thirty (30) days of the date of your initial appearance/arraignment. This is normally done at your initial appearance/ arraignment. In the event your license is suspended, and you do not have a prior history of license suspensions, the judge may grant you “Limited Driving Privileges” to allow you to drive during your suspension period. These privileges are usually restricted to driving to and from work and any work-related travel during your work hours. Limited driving privileges may also be granted for education and medical purposes. Some courts consider a homemaker’s obligations as employment.
If granted, you will be required to carry a certified copy of the Entry Granting Limited Driving Privileges with you when you drive. This will allow any officer who may stop you to determine whether you are within your stated restrictions when you drive. You may also be required to carry a log of your travels.
Approximately 2 to 4 weeks following the arraignment, a Pre-Trial Hearing or Conference will be held. A Pre-Trial is the court appearance prior to the Motion Hearing and Trial and is an opportunity for us to speak directly with the prosecutor handling your case. This is an opportunity to provide the prosecutor with our arguments and determine the extent of the State’s evidence. At this point in the proceedings, we will attempt to review the videotape (if available) of your stop and arrest.
4. Motion Hearing
Following the Pre-Trial, we will request a Motion Hearing. This is a very important step as it sometimes allows us to attack various aspects of the State’s case prior to trial. The elimination of harmful evidence is the primary purpose and goal of “motions”. There will be no jury involved at a motion hearing. Present at a typical motion hearing will be the judge, the prosecutor, the State’s witness (the arresting officer(s)) you and your attorney. Some cases require additional witnesses. The judge will hear motions and argument from both sides, then grant or deny the motions.
Next is the Trial. This may be a Jury Trial (an eight person jury is used in misdemeanor cases) or a Court trial (heard only by the judge).
As the time for trial draws closer, we will be coordinating witnesses and subpoenas. We may need your assistance in providing the necessary information on witnesses to assure that this is done timely and correctly. It is critical that you stay in touch with your fact witnesses, since we will need to be able to reach them and provide them with a subpoena to secure their appearance.
One thing that you must understand is the likelihood or probability of a continuance (rescheduling) of court dates. Court dates are subject to change at the last moment. Please make sure that we know where to reach you at all times. Conflicts between cases invariably occur for a variety of reasons. For example, it is not unusual for many jury trials to be set for the same date. In these instances, court rules require that the older case must be heard first.
Going to court is not like going to the doctor. We cannot make an appointment. We go when we are told to appear. If you see that you are going to have a job-threating or life-threatening conflict, please let us know immediately.
The majority of OVI cases take approximately 4 to 6 months to resolve.
7. Obtaining Identification Card During Pendency of Case
Our advice to Ohio residents is to obtain a TEMPORARY STATE IDENTIFICATION CARD for use until you can obtain a new driver’s license. These may be obtained at any registrars’ office. State regulations limit such identification cards to Ohio residents. Remember, this is not a license to drive and you must keep your Entry Granting Driving Privileges with you when driving. [Non-resident drivers licensed by another State should explore whether you can procure a replacement license or similar ID card in your State without running afoul of your State’s law]. Do not obtain a Permanent State Identification Card. Doing so will cancel your Ohio driver’s license.
Please don’t risk another possible arrest for OVI while this case is pending. Our office has represented many clients charged with a second OVI while the first was pending. This makes your case much more difficult to handle and a favorable outcome less likely.
Commonly Asked Questions About The DUI Process
- What happens at my first court appearance?
- Other than my arraignment, what other court appearances will I have to attend?
- What is a plea bargain?
- I have heard that an OVI charge can be amended or reduced to a Reckless Operation or a Physical Control. What is the difference between an OVI and these “reductions”?
An OVI is a misdemeanor offense. As such, the first court date you will attend is generally called an arraignment. At your arraignment, you must enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you have chosen to hire an attorney and fight the charges filed against you, a “not guilty” plea will be entered. Your first court appearance is also when you can request occupational driving privileges during your administrative license suspension, or in the alternative, get a “stay” of your administrative license suspension so that you can being driving again.
After your arraignment, most courts will schedule a Pre-Trial Hearing/Conference. Usually, the pre-trial is a meeting between the prosecutor and your defense attorney to discuss the case, the discovery, and possible resolutions to the case. There may be one or more pre-trials, depending on how quickly information is provided and exchanged between the parties. If the case is not resolved at a pre-trial hearing, it may be set for a Suppression Hearing to determine what evidence maybe used against you at trial.
The Suppression Hearing is a very important step as it sometimes allows your attorney to attack various aspects of the State’s case prior to trial. The elimination of harmful evidence is the primary purpose and goal of “Motions”. A Suppression Hearing is generally heard by the judge assigned to your case . Present at a typical Suppression Hearing will be the judge, the prosecutor, the State’s witness (the arresting officer) you, your attorney and witnesses the defense may wish to present.
If your case is not resolved at the time of the Motion Hearing, the case will be scheduled for Trial. This may be a Jury or a Court Trial, heard only by the judge.
A plea agreement is a process whereby a criminal defendant and a prosecutor reach a mutually satisfactory disposition, subject to the judge’s approval. Plea agreements usually result in either an amendment to a lesser charge or dismissal of some charges in exchange for a guilty plea to other charges. Although a prosecutor has no legal obligation to engage in plea bargaining, your defense attorney must engage in plea bargaining if you so choose.
You have the absolute right to either accept or reject a plea offer. A judge must approve a plea offer, and is still in charge of sentencing. Your attorney should advise you as to your options and potential outcomes of your choice. This advice should be based not only on your probability of success at trial, but also on other considerations such as sentencing factors, financial considerations and time considerations.
4. I have heard that an OVI charge can be amended or reduced to a Reckless Operation or a Physical Control. What is the difference between an OVI and these “reductions“?
Generally speaking, there are two types of reductions common in OVI cases: Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence. It is important to understand the difference between these offenses before you decide whether or not to accept such a plea agreement.
A Reckless Operation is a misdemeanor traffic offense that carries four (4) points against your Ohio Driver’s License. Reckless Operation covers a whole host of traffic mishaps, from driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit to striking an inanimate object. What Reckless Operation is not associated with, is drugs or alcohol. There are no mandatory penalties associated with a Reckless Operation conviction. However, should your license be suspended by the court for a Reckless Operation conviction, the reinstatement fee which must be paid to the BMV at the conclusion of your suspension is $40.00.
Physical Control/Under the Influence is also a misdemeanor traffic offense, but because it is considered a non-moving offense, it carries zero (0) BMV points. “Physical control” is defined as being in the driver’s position of the front seat of a vehicle and having possession of the vehicle’s ignition key while under the influence alcohol or drugs, but not actually operating the vehicle. An example would be someone who leaves a party and decides to “sleep it off” in their car rather than actually driving anywhere. So, the offense is associated with the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs. There is no mandatory suspension associated with a Physical Control conviction. However, should the court decide to suspend your license as the result of a Physical Control conviction, the reinstatement fee is the same as that of an OVI suspension: $475.00.
There are benefits and draw-backs to entering a guilty plea to either one of these charges, but both carry far fewer penalties and stigma than having an OVI conviction on your record.
Get the Help You Need from The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc.
It is critical that you have a competent, qualified attorney on your side. Our lawyers attend drunk driving seminars, give presentations at seminars, publish articles on OVI, OMVI, DUI, DWI law, and handle a large volume of drunk driving cases. We are not afraid to take your drunk driving case to a jury, and we are not the type of lawyers that will resolve your case without challenging matters every step of the way.